Images © Marvel Characters, Inc.
In 1980 this new DAREDEVIL logo was introduced, one that would stay on the book for some time, during which Frank Miller would bring the title to new prominence with fan favorite art and stories. I don’t know who designed it, we’re still in that dark period in my knowledge of Marvel logo designers. The only name that might be suggested is Jim Novak, who would have been an on-staff letterer and logo designer at the time.
The general approach goes back to the original 1964 logo, giving both lines a gentle upward curve, a strong right-leaning slant, and making the first letter of DAREDEVIL the smallest, the last the largest, so the end of the logo appears to be coming toward us. The curve is actually an example of complex fish-eye perspective, where the letters seem to lie on the surface of a very large sphere. “Horizontal” perspective lines recede to the left, “vertical” ones seem to recede upward and to the right, but receding just barely, and there’s a third vanishing point to the lower right, implied by the surface angle of the entire logo that makes the lower right corner seem closest. This sort of curved perspective is not too hard to achieve on the drawing board with a large french curve, but making it as consistent as this is not so easy, so whoever designed the logo knew what they were doing. I like it, particularly the way the tagline THE MAN WITHOUT FEAR is integrated into the perspective. The letterforms are another kind of standard block letters, ones where the curved strokes of the D, R, O and U are vertical except for the corners, what one would see in a very condensed font. The overall effect is to give the logo a more modern type-based look, while still having lots of visual interest because of the perspective, and a feeling of movement from the slant and angle as well. DAREDEVIL is large and easy to read; the tagline gets a bit harder, but is not as important anyway.
In 1981 this variation was introduced with thicker letters overall. Looks to me like someone made a solid black version of the previous logo by filling in the open letters, then traced around that to create a new outline version. Thicker letters are usually better on a superhero logo, and the only downside for this one is that the small center triangles of the A’s become so small that they’re in danger of disappearing. Even if they did, it wouldn’t hurt the readability much, and I think the logo still works fine.
The tagline was often dropped beginning in 1982, leaving more room for the cover art, and making the logo simpler. Since the character was now very popular and easily recognized, this could only be a good thing. No need to constantly remind readers he was without fear! And you can see that someone has fixed the triangle in the A, making it larger.
The only danger with a logo having a very long run on a book is one of reader boredom, and in the 1980s cover designers like Ed Hannigan liked to shake things up by doing unusual things with the logo. I don’t know if this is one of Ed’s designs, but it could be, making the logo a sort of Hollywood sign behind the cityscape.
Another way to change things up, both for the book and the character, is with a theme, such as this western one, where the logo has been given the slab-serif style of old wanted posters from the American west, not unlike DC’s JONAH HEX. The tagline is back here, fitting nicely into the implied telescoped drop-shadow with a central vanishing point toward the bottom.
Here’s another logo variation from 1985 that looks to me even more like an Ed Hannigan design, using the slab-serif logo as giant telescoped letters atop a building, with the entire cover in dizzying three-point perspective, including the logo. See if you can visually imagine where the three vanishing points would be. The bottom one is the easiest, the other two would be very far away.
But for most of the 1980s and into the 90s, the main logo was this one. As you can see here, it wasn’t always a great fit over the cover art, but the angle and perspective make it attractive in almost any situation.
In 1993 this miniseries made the old tagline into the main title in a very different and interesting graphic treatment. Using computer graphics (I’d guess), and a standard sans-serif font, the words are made to fit the width of a narrow box by varying the size greatly, with the final word FEAR stretched vertically to make it even larger and more important. The words and letters are very tight together, giving the logo a nice graphic approach, added to by the very subdued colors and inner texture in the letters suggesting rough concentric circles. Clearly this cover and logo were designed for the direct market, and not newsstand display, and the cover art shows the influence of the time by portraying a quiet moment in a poster-like way rather than an action scene, but overall it’s quite effective.
ADDED: Kuljit Mithra reports this logo was designed by then editor Pat Garrahy, who he interviewed in 2000 for his Daredevil website. Garrahy is quoted:
In discussions with Frank, J.R., and everyone else involved, we wanted to really make the book stand apart–try something new and not necessarily traditional. We even dropped the traditional DAREDEVIL logo, and I designed the the type logo which used my thumbprint as an emboss pattern to tie-in Matt Murdock’s blindness–the tactile sense of touch on THE MAN WITHOUT FEAR. I think our discussion focused on the book being more about the definition of Matt Murdock’s character, and less about DAREDEVIL. At least I think that’s how we won arguments with DeFalco.
And now we know exactly what the pattern in the letters is. Thanks, Kuljit!
Another trend of the time was to change things up in the regular title for a few issues, sort of a miniseries within the series, and for seven issues in 1994 DAREDEVIL used this unusual logo. I haven’t been able to find out who designed it thus far. It’s not by Alex Jay or Ken Bruzenak, my first two guesses, nor by Ken Lopez, who suggests possibly Jim Novak, though I have to say it doesn’t look like his style to me. In some ways I’d call it a bad design, but on the other hand, it does have a certain appeal, as one’s eyes try to fill in the missing sections of the D’s and R, while the long pointed extensions on the A and V add interest. Pointy logos were certainly the in thing in the 90s, and this is the first time DAREDEVIL had any. On the downside, the A becomes too important to my eye, and the angles of the letters are not consistent. Also of note is the tagline numbering I of V, when in fact it ran seven issues. Things changed along the way, apparently!
In 1996 Marvel wanted a new Daredevil logo, and I was asked to design one. I’ll continue with that next time. Other chapters and lots more logo studies can be found on my LOGO LINKS page.